David Moscrop’s book, titled “Too Dumb for Democracy?”, raises a question that liberal political thinkers normally avoid. Our complaints are usually against “deficits” in democracy. But suppose the problem instead is that normal citizens cannot cognitively process the information that is necessary to make wise political judgments? In a friendly conversation, Metta suggests that Moscrop has raised a question that he does not pursue long, for soon he turns to a search for the institutional changes to which many liberals would turn as ways of reforming and saving democracy.
In this month’s Global Town Hall, ten Canadians chat with experts in Croatia, Russia, India, and Wales about the pandemic and the demonstrations against policy brutality now sweeping the US. Should we pick one issue at a time (e.g. nuclear weapons) or work on six or seven as a package? Is the priority to find great leaders or to engage large numbers of citizens as activists? Can Trump be prevented from re-starting nuclear weapons tests?
The subtitle of Marc Pilisuk’s book was “Who Benefits from Global Violence and War?” and Peter Phillips’s book answsered it: “Giants: The Global Power Elite.” These are about 200 people who control over 40 trillion dollars: a large fraction of the world’s cash. So what are the alternatives and is it possible to persuade, say, 10% of the population to demand that they be adopted. Metta takes a more pessimistic view than Pilisuk and Phillips.
Mubarak Awad was a Palestinian Christian psychotherapist who found that his clients did not need therapy; they needed freedom. So he founded a center for nonviolence, which the Israeli government did not appreciate—since it created an effective nonviolent intifada. But the work continues, and Metta speaks with Awad and three other leaders in nonviolent resistance: Michael Beer, Andre Kamenshikov (working now from Kiev), and Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan (working from both Thailand and Canada). At least three of the people are optimistic about being able to continue their work, even in the hard post-Covid economy.
Peace activists Saul Arbess, William Geimer, Magritte Gordaneer, and Tamara Lorincz have been working together to revitalize the Canadian peace movement. Metta Spencer finds that this initiative is one of several similar ongoing efforts (most of the others global instead of national) so the group discuss the prospects for creating a “social movement of social movements.”
Peter Russell’s forthcoming book gives a history of sovereignty, but the panelists are thinking about what comes after it—how to transition from a world of sovereign nation states to a global federation—or some other alternative means of governance. Fergus Watt promotes World Federalism; Robert Schaeffer is skeptical about the direction we’re heading; and John Feffer is already collecting a transnational community of leaders. Metta doesn’t choose among these approaches but supports them all.
Rebecca Fannin is an America business journalist who, since the early 1990s, has written about the new corporations in Asia—for financial magazines—plus two books about China and one largely about India. She now offers a webinar on venture capital. She and Metta discuss the connections between business interests and political and social values.
Barbara Birkett, Saul Chernos, Evnur Taran, Jase Tanner, and Adam Wynne called into Project Save the World’s monthly Global Town Hall this time–mainly to discuss Covid-19 with Metta. In April, we’re all locked in our homes speculating about the future: When (if, indeed ever) can we safely open up again? Will the world globalize more or retreat further between closed borders?
Adam and Margo Koniuszewski created the Bridge Foundation, organisation with special consultative status with the United Nations. The Bridge is active in Switzerland, Canada and Poland where it implements educational programmes addressing socio-economic and security challenges. Adam tells Metta about their current initiative: a competition between teams of Polish students from different fields (IT, Law, Business, Medical and Military) to advise the government in a hypothetical cyberattack. This is, in effect, a “fire drill” for reality. Because of Covid-19, they will carry out the competition entirely online.
Metta Spencer, who launched Project Save the World two years ago, reviews the policy proposals that seem most likely, if enacted simultaneously, to reduce the threat of the six most serious global catastrophes facing humankind: militarism, global warming, famine, pandemics, nuclear contamination, and cyberattacks. They cannot be solved in a step-by-step sequence, for they are a system and must be resolved together.
Project Save the World invites activists around the world to an open videoconference on the last Sunday of each month. Here Metta Spencer hosts friends in the US, Canada, Croatia, and India in the month when the pandemic spread worldwide. Several of the callers are Rotarian activists and we mainly discuss the use of therapy to handle trauma.
Luke Griswold-Tergis and Michael Loranty frequently go to a research station called Pleistocene Park, which is run by a father and son, Sergey and Nikita Zimov. They tell Metta that the Park shows that herds of large herbivores reduce the soil temperature. This can keep permafrost from melting. More research is certainly needed.
Peace Magazine Jul-Sep 2020, page 30. Some rights reserved.